TRIGGER WARNING: CALORIE LISTS, WEIGHT, AND DESCRIPTIONS OF UNHEALTHY FOOD LISTS, BINGING AND PURGING
I’ve been meaning to post about my chronic illnesses for awhile, but in a lot of ways they feel separate from my ED issues. ED is such a head game. My physiological illnesses are so much more tangible and so much easier to talk about in everyday life. But in a lot of ways, just because they’re both such a big part of my life, my physical health and my ED really do have to go hand in hand. The fact is, I deal with daily chronic pain and I regularly vomit or have other forms of gastric distress (meaning that I get diarrhea. Such epic, unbelievable, unstoppable diarrhea!) and I deal with these on a pretty regular basis.
Throwing up has always just sort of been a given in my life. However, in high school, I learned that the horrible pain I got every time I ate wouldn’t happen if I vomited soon enough after eating. Had a single doctor I met with before turning 25 diagnosed me with something other than “hysteria,” who’s to say if I ever would have developed such an all-consuming eating disorder. By the time I finally found a doctor who thought to order a blood test for celiac sprue, obsessive food restriction and the immediate need to purge nearly every time I couldn’t get out of eating was just part of my way of life. Since getting diagnosed, I’ve only made myself vomit twice. The first time was two years ago I found a regular, gluten-filled noodle in my supposedly gluten-free bowl of rice noodles from Noodles and Company. I panicked thinking about the gastric misery, swollen joints and lymph nodes, and the lingering fever I tend to have for up to two weeks after accidentally eating anything containing the primary trigger to my body’s over-enthusiastic autoimmune response, and I ran to the bathroom and puked until it came out my nose. I felt safe. I still got sick, but whether it was because of the noodles or the over-enthusiastic Panic Purge, who can say?
The second time, of course, was today.
Today is what I call a bad body day. The weather here has been crazy and the changes in pressure associated with different weather patterns gives me so much pain in my muscles and joints. Today I just plowed through work until around 3:30 when I started to lose my vision in my right eye to a migraine. At that point, I pulled out my emergency pill box and took a few tylonol+codeine with a few aleve. There’s a specific cocktail that helps me get to the point where I no longer notice the fact that I’m in pain and I feel like I could work forever. This, unfortunately, is also the point at which I am basically high as a freaking kite, making the quality of this enthusiastically produced work absolutely, unexplainablly awful. Knowing this, I spent the last half hour at work organizing papers (NOT throwing anything out!) and putting together work to do at home tonight once I “sobered up.” I packed up my bag and floated home intending to take a nap and then work through the evening until my husband comes home at around 9.
Instead of walking past the convenience store on my way home like I always do, floaty-brain decided to walk inside to see if they had the one lemon I’d need to make the meal I’d suddenly decided I absolutely needed to make tonight. Of course, they didn’t have the lemon, it’s a convenience store! BUT what they did have was a wide selection of Easter candy and a few frozen cheese enchiladas of a well-known gluten-free brand. I spent $16 on convenience store garbage. I spent $16 on food that I would never normally buy, let alone eat, and then came home, watched youtube videos and shoveled that garbage into my mouth on autopilot. It was glorious, boundary-less, free-style gluttony at its finest! I WALLOWED in it!
And then I sobered up.
I have been really quite obsessive about my calorie counting these past few weeks. I track them in the my fitness pal app on my phone and fill in and delete hypothetical meals to see what my predicted weight will be in 5 weeks if I eat or don’t eat a certain thing. How on earth do you begin to log all the calories that are in a frozen meal and multiple types of chocolate, each of which have as many calories as I’ve been eating per day? How can I click the “log complete” button and see how much I’ll weigh in 5 weeks if every day were as much of a disaster as today? I’ve lost 11lbs since I stopped pretending to have recovered. I’ve gotten so many compliments and have felt so good and strong and small. And then I took some stupid medicine so I could walk -instead of limp- my fat butt home, lost my mind, and ate my weight in crap.
So, I went into the bathroom, stuck my toothbrush down my throat and puked and puked and puked until I couldn’t do it any more. I know that electrolyte balance is a delicate thing and very, very dangerous to mess with, but there was just something so satisfying about pulling all that crap back out of me. It’s like popping a pimple or something else equally disgusting. I feel better. Not physically. Physically I still feel like I taste puke, my stomach hurts and my throat burns. But I feel calm. The panic is gone. Other than the fact that my toothbrush still smells like puke, I don’t really have any regrets right at the moment. It’s not at all something I want to do with any sort of regularity. My teeth are damaged enough as it is, and my general health is already quite a mess. But today that’s what it took to stop the panic.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take a xanax and make dinner so that by the time my husband gets home, I’ll hopefully be able to let myself both eat and digest my food.